Whatever your feeling about the Maoists--or about Arundhati Roy's recent story in Outlook--it seems clear that this problem has reached the attention of the central government and urban elite in large part because there are all kinds of valuable resources in many of the the places where the Maoists are active. And I'm not talking about pristine streams, tiger habitats, or idyllic villages full of people living sustainably. I am not talking about trees or the stuff that grows on trees, but the stuff that lies under the trees-- the stuff you need if you want to make iron and steel and aluminum. The stuff India Inc. is dying to get it's hands on. The stuff that is required to sustain the unsustainable way of life many of us are living in Delhi and the other mega-cities.
With or without Maoists, mining is a dirty, ugly business. We probably can't stop doing it completely--a modern sustainable, just society will require some metal, even if we use much less and recycle like we should. But destroying forests, mining metal and running factories just to produce throw-away consumer goods for the richest of the rich is not helping anything. It will result in jobs for a few years, maybe even decades, but in the end that road leads to nowhere but disaster--when oil prices spike, when wells and rivers run dry and the monsoons don't come, malls and big cars won't power our homes, they won't irrigate our fields! Better to put people to work in industries that build things we really need: efficient, affordable housing, solar and wind power plants, water harvesting projects, etc.
An alliance of civil society groups, including the Indian Youth Climate Network, is shining some light on this issue. They are putting together an Independent People's Tribunal (IPT). IPT's are a way for civil society groups to present an issue of public concern before an impartial and eminent group of jury members, whose report on the subject is useful in educating and informing and mobilizing public opinion. Here is the basic information:
INDEPENDENT PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL
on Land Acquisition, Resource Grab and Operation Green Hunt
9-11 April 2010,
Speaker’s Hall, Constitution Club, Rafi Marg, New Delhi
For more information go here.